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Netanyahu’s fall and peace

Aug 07,2017 - Last updated at Aug 07,2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not survive politically as his indictment in two corruption cases seems certain.  The centre-left in Israel is celebrating a likely downfall of Netanyahu. In celebration of Netanyahu’s looming indictment, some people, according to Gideon Levy from Haartez, hosted a festive barbecue.

It is as if all mistakes of Israel are because of one man! Therefore, all it takes is to replace him with another leader and everything will be fixed. Nevertheless, reality is way more complicated. There is no quick fix for Israel’s myriad problems. The imperatives of forming a ruling coalition restrict any prime minister of Israel to act independently. 

Let’s examine how Netanyahu’s departure from the political scene is going to affect the peace process. Explicit in Israel is the fact that any peace process that entails any territorial concession, particularly in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is a hotly debated and divisive topic. Over the course of three decades, no single prime minister successfully and genuinely pushed for peace and survived politically, and physically in the case of Rabin. This begs the following question: Why would the departure of Netanyahu pave the path to peace?

As strong as he may be, Netanyahu has been a player among a broad coalition. He never had a free hand in any topic. Besides, the weak opposition has helped the extremists in the government prevail and dictate a certain path that made peace with the Palestinians impossible. I am not writing this to relieve Netanyahu from the responsibility of the stalled peace process. On the contrary, he is ideologically and politically opposed to genuine peace with the Palestinians. And yet, I suspect that the mere replacement of Netanyahu will lead to peace.

If anything, Netanyahu will be superseded by a right-wing leader atop of almost the same governing coalition. More importantly, a centre-left coalition is still far-fetched. By other words, the political rivalries will be only among the right wing coalition and no matter who will emerge victorious, the political game will continue unchecked. Over the last two decades, the Israeli society has shifted rightward. It follows that forming a peace coalition is mission impossible. Worse, successive governments have to represent the interests of settlers!

For a change to take place, Israel needs more than changing the prime minister. According to Gideon Levy, Israeli needs a revolution. I can understand why many Israelis are upbeat with the news of possible indictment of Netanyahu. Many take issues with Netanyahu’s personality and the way he conducts himself. By the same token, some seek to succeed him. Some also feel that Netanyahu deserves what he has been going through and that his reign must come to an end. But when it comes to peace with the Palestinians, I suspect that a policy change is in the minds of Netanyahu’s opponents whether from the right or the left.

 

Certainly, the Palestinians are monitoring the situation in Israel to see how they can capitalise on the developments. While this is important, they need to get their act together and present a united front behind an agreed upon strategic objective. Short of doing that, Palestinians will remain at the receiving end and will lose the ability to take the initiative.

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